Just got back yesterday from Thanksgiving in Iowa. We went to see my parents.
I was going back to a place where I lived for two years, when I was in third and fourth grade. It was, and still is, a very small cluster of houses built around eight streets with no commercial activity at all. Today the two main streets are paved, though the others still are dirt as they were before. The elementary school is closed now, as is the community center, which used to be a general store long ago. There are two churches, but since one is moving out to the highway into a new building, within the month there will only be one. It was a great place to be kid - and probably still is.
Now when I drive through the streets where we rode our bicycles, and stop at the creek where we swam, and see the empty lot where we played, everything seems so small. What seemed to be far away back then was really only a mile or less. It also looks so very rundown and dilapidated. I asked my parents if the houses look the same today as they did when we lived there, and apparently they do. I guess when I was nine or ten I didn't know that our town looked poor. I hadn't learned to be as conscious of material possessions as I am today.
I am less easily satisfied than I was as a boy. Having a bicycle, a place to play, and a best friend was all that mattered. It probably still is - but I am just less aware of it.